Going back: Heidegger, East Asia and The West

Radical Philosophy 120:11-22 (2003)
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Abstract

This article comprises a critical examination of some aspects of the English-language comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought. It questions both its transcendental conceptual ground – the conditions of possibility for the comparative exercise – and its account of Heideggerʼs philosophy itself. For the comparative literature, I will argue, can only make its specific claims, sympathetic to the Heideggerian philosophical project, with a reading of that project that represses most of what is fundamental to Heideggerʼs conception of philosophy and almost everything that we know about his politics. Furthermore, in its emphasis on the ancient it facilitates the repression of the history of Heideggerian fascism in modern East Asian, and particularly Japanese, thought. The point of this critical examination of the comparative literature is not, however, to expose a misreading of Heidegger. It is to reveal what is at stake in the mobilization of the imaginary geopolitical and geophilosophical unities of ʻthe Eastʼ and ʻthe Westʼ in relation to Heideggerʼs political-philosophical thinking of ʻthe Westʼ. Accordingly, I will look first at the claims typical in the advocatory comparative literature and then at the problematic conceptual ground of the comparison, both in terms of its immanent logic and its relation to Heideggerʼs conception of the history of philosophy.

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Stella Sandford
Kingston University

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